Press release submissions should be one of the communication options in the public relations arsenal of a business or nonprofit. One of the advantages of submitting a press, or news, release is that the business itself frames its story. Another is that the same story has the potential of being picked up by several media outlets. The biggest drawback is that there is no guarantee that it will be published, unlike a business profile that fills purchased (advertising) space. This is the skinny on increasing the odds that a news release will be published. Newspapers and magazines that don’t pick up your news release don’t usually tell you why, but the following information could help you rethink your current practices in a new light.
WRITE LIKE A REPORTER
- Be selective. Publications that print press releases are allocating free space, so don’t submit one about every piece of news you have to share. Wait for something significant. Examples of newsworthy topics include: moving to a new location; hiring a pivotal employee; winning an award; or reaching a major goal, milestone or anniversary.
- Be concise. Focus on one piece of business news. Add a few sentences of general information, but don’t overdo it. When you have a draft, go back and remove every unnecessary word.
- Use third person. As the “reporter,” it’s OK to quote yourself or someone else, but use quotes selectively, and correctly, to add credibility.
- Think of the audience. Include every piece of information that the reader should know, and use vocabulary aimed at your least knowledgeable reader.
- Be polished. Proofread and correct your press release to make it perfect before you submit it. When those who review your release see one mistake, they may not read any further and are unlikely to make space for it.
USE THE CORRECT STYLE GUIDE
You may use another style guide for other forms of written communications; but, for press releases, “The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law” is the guide to use. If you ignore its protocols, the editor reviewing your press release may decide that it’s too much work to edit what you’ve written to make it conform to the correct standards. The Associated Press updates its stylebook annually.